The Fever by Megan Abbott

The FeverThe Fever by Megan Abbott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Fever by Megan Abbott

I’m glad that I waited and didn’t review this right away. If I did, this would have been easy 1 or 2 stars. I was really disappointed after reading The Fever, especially because I liked Dare Me and was really excited for this. Thankfully, life got in the way of writing the review. And by life, I mean sleeping because it was late and I was really tired.

Now that it’s been awhile, I can look back on the book and realize that it wasn’t as bad as I originally thought and that the ending, while lacklustre, made sense. Not only did it make sense, but it fits the overall theme of this novel. I still don’t like it, but I don’t hate it as much as I originally did.

The Fever is about the Nash family as they deal with the sudden and unexpected panic that arise once a girl falls down in class and has a seizure. No one knows what happened or what caused the seizures, but soon enough other girls start falling and the kids, the school, and the media are freaking out.

And boy did they freak out.

After two girls fall, it’s no surprise that conspiracy theories soon follow. Is it due to pregnancy? A weird new form of a STD? The lake has some crazy algae in it, maybe it’s causing the girls to freak out? Maybe it’s the HPV vaccine?

In the end, the cause for the first girl’s bought of seizures was actually something so small that it’s almost laughable at how the town and media reacted to it. The first girl who falls is Lise, who is popular at school. The second one that falls is Gabby, who is also popular. When this happens, it makes sense for people to start to want to mimic the symptoms. This will be the best way to be popular, if you will.

People want to make sense of what is happening, but at the same time they want to be a part of the hysteria that is coming down. And Abbott does a great job with the hysteria and the reaction from everyone else. Like I said before, when you find out the reason why everything started, it’s something so small that you wonder why people did that even though you know the reasons behind it.

A small act can have huge consequences and I think this book definitely showcased that.

That didn’t mean that when I found out I was all like, “Oh Megan Abbott, you clever author you.” No, I wanted to throw the book across the room and ask myself why I spent all that time reading, when the payoff was so blah.

But then again, a small stupid act with stupid reasons behind it can cause people to do stupid things. Sadly, that’s just life, and when you pair it up with high school then fun things happen.

In terms of the characters, I didn’t really connect with any of them. In Dare Me, Abbott did a great job creating a world of unlikeable characters that felt real. I think Dare Me was the first book I read where I didn’t like any of the characters, but still really enjoyed the story. The writing was top notch there too, which is why I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t feel anything towards the characters here and that I was a bit bored throughout the novel.

Overall: The Fever isn’t a bad book by any means, but if you are looking for a thriller, horror, expose into teenagers – you won’t really find it here. I did keep reading it till the end, so the writing is good and flows well, but the characters were a bit bland and the overall story isn’t one that I can recommend. It’s not bad though, at least not as bad as I originally thought. I just wish there wasn’t so many red herrings and that more time was spent on the actual reason behind everything. Because once you finally get to it, it does feel like it comes out of nowhere and after everything that has happened, it’s a bit annoying. Perhaps if we learned more about the reason or got hints here and there, that would have worked better for me.

I still like Abbott’s writing style, so I’ll be reading her next book, I just hope it’s more like Dare Me and less of The Fever.

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Teaser Tuesday pt. 4

tteTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

~-.-~

 I just started reading Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston. Frozen is the first book in the Heart of Dread series.

Frozen (Heart of Dread, #1)Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

Nat knelt to revive it, but it’s small lifeless body was already cold. Dead. It had been so beautiful, and now it was gone. She looked up and glared at the soldier. “You killed it!”

A little more than two lines, but that’s okay.

So, what’s your Teaser Tuesday? Please leave a link so I can visit your blog.

Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand

Congrats to Charlee! You are the lucky winner of The Girl from the Well giveaway. Hope you enjoy the book!

ImitationImitation by Heather Hildenbrand

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When it comes to books about clones, or sci-fi stuff in general, I’m more than willing to suspend my disbelief here and there. I feel like it comes with the territory and while some may like reading about the complicated things involved, I more than happy to just go with whatever the author says and call it a day. If the author says that cloning has been going on for a long time, I’m fine with that. And in the beginning of the novel, I right there going with the flow, but then we learn about the Imitations and what they’re required to do and everything came crashing down.

Ven is an ‘Imitation’, a clone of an ‘Authentic’ person living in the outside world. Since she was created, she’s known that it was her sole mission in life to know every that there was to know about her Authentic, Raven. Everything from what she likes, to how to speaks, to the little ticks that she does when she thinks no one is watching.

For five years, Ven has known every “intimate” (but not really) detail about Raven, so that if she’s ever made to take on Raven’s duties, she’ll be more than prepared. She isn’t sure when she’ll be called up for duty, but after a few chapters she does and Ven is off to live in the outside. Naturally, she’s nervous about the mission and makes a few hiccups here and there, but soon enough she meets someone that makes her question if everything is really worth it. Is it herself? Nope, but it is a hot older guy. (Older, because he’s 21 and Ven has only been around 5 years……) Anyways, the deeper she gets, the more she realizes that she doesn’t want to be Raven, she wants to be Ven.

I generally like books about clones, especially since there’s always a morally gray aspect to them and I like reading about how the clones feel about themselves and the world that they live in. Even if it doesn’t make sense, or if someone is making clones for no real purpose, I’ll still read it just to see what happens. And even though I did read this to the end, I feel like so many plot points ruined my experience with this.

Normally, I’d talk about how the romance doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t. Ven and Linc spend maybe a day together before they’re declaring their undying love for one another. Considering Ven hasn’t had much contact with guys, it’s kind of makes sense for her to be a bit thirsty when she sees a hot guy and interacts with him for the first time.

But let’s all remember that Ven is meant to be Raven and Raven loves Daniel, a guy that Ven has never seen before her mission started.

I don’t even like love triangles, but if I was running the company making the clones you better be sure that there would have been one here. Had I worked at a clone facility and it was my purpose to make sure the clones know their Authentic the best, then I’d make sure they know who the boyfriends/girlfriends are. Not only that, but I’d make them want their Authentic’s love interest. Every desire their Authentic feels, the Imitations will feel as well.

Except here, whenever Ven is studying Raven’s life through the videos, the screen always goes dark when Daniel shows up. This is a problem, because whenever Daniel kissed Ven, she recoiled in disgust. That’s not how a trained clone is meant to behave when her sole mission in life is to be exactly like her Authentic.

This clone place clearly doesn’t do a great job with their clones. I mean, how is Ven supposed to be Raven when she’s gets snippets of her life? Also, the name Ven is horrible. If I was the clone factory, I’d make sure the clones only have the names of their Authentic people. So Ven, would only be referred to as Raven. This might seem cruel and even confusing to readers, but considering that the company that makes the clones calls them products and thinks of them as less than human, I wonder why they’d make them feel human by giving them their own name.

I mean, if I had a cat, which I would love to have because cats are adorable and amazing and fluffy and caring, but not too caring that they want you to think that you’re their only one….. if I had a cat and I didn’t care for it, I’d call him/her “cat”, or “hey you.” By giving the cat a name, I’m already establishing a connection and humanizing the animal.

In Imitation, the clones are made to feel like they have no soul, that they’re not human, and that they have no purpose in life except to be there for their Authentic when the time arises. If it doesn’t, then they’re used for organs and whatnot. Basically, the people running this company are horrible. They implant a kill switch on every clone, they make sure you know that you can and will be replaced, and that you have no happy ending if you’re an Imitation, and yet they’re very human with the names. If you don’t care about clones, why call them anything else other than the names of the people they’re meant to be, or a bar code number?

The name doesn’t really matter, but when I was reading about how Ven would watch hours of videos about Raven and yet not know how Raven’s dad or boyfriend looks like, I started to notice so many horrible protocols placed inside of this facility. Worse of all, I kept thinking about how if I was running the place, every single clone would have a burning desire to ”Single White Female” their original.

This might cause problems in the long run, but I feel like this is what would be the best course of action to take in this company.

Regardless of that, I think that’s what my main problem with the novel is the fact that certain things made no sense whatsoever. It was so bad, that I couldn’t suspend my disbelief even if I wanted to. Ven’s desire to be Ven and not Raven happened within two seconds and solidified once Linc said something nice to her. She was screwing up her job before, but this epiphany made it even worse. Her father, her friends, her boyfriend, her security, everyone could see a huge difference between Ven and Raven.

What were those five years for if she can’t completely the only job she’s meant to have?

Speaking of Raven, she’s hardly in the book and Ven hates her like you would not believe for reasons that make no sense. Raven is apparently shallow, vapid, slut, and everything in between. But we never really got to know Raven or why her life was in danger in the first place. I think it was to bring out Ven so she can be recruited by the ‘bad guys’ only the bad guys have the same horrible tactics as the clone company.

If I was a bad guy in this novel…

Overall: Imitation has all of the makings for a really great clone series. I already saw hints of the clones starting a revolution, but once we learn a bit about that the book ends. It just ends.

And yet, that isn’t my problem with the book. It’s not the sudden cliffhanger. It’s not the insta-love that makes the heroine realize her worth and feel like nothing in life matters except the hero. It’s the fact that this world makes no sense.

There are certain things in this book that other reviewers took issue with, but I was able to look past it. But a clone company that trains clones to behave like the originals is so poorly run that I couldn’t handle it. Whenever Ven messed up, I didn’t say to myself, “Stupid Ven not understanding the mission and being useless!” No, instead I said, “This is what happens when you don’t train your clones properly. Things would be so much different if I took over.”

The thing is, I don’t want to think or feel this way when reading a book. It ruins the experience; and unfortunately, that’s what happened here. The book did end on an annoying note though, so I’m probably going to read the next book to see what happens next. I’m assuming that since everything is now established, great things should happen. Hopefully we’ll learn more about this company and why they suck at their job so much.

 
Imitation was provided by netgalley

Other reviews!

Teaser Tuesday pt. 3

tteTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

~-.-~

 

I’m currently reading two books. Imitation and The Princess Problem.

ImitationImitation by Heather Hildenbrand
There is a moment of silence between us as she lifts her arm over me, a syringe clutched in her hand.
“No!” I jerk and struggle against her one-handed hold. She releases me long enough to land a stinging slap that drives my face sideways.

The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed YearsThe Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years by Rebecca Hains
Now, some parents might be thrilled to see a previously rambunctious child play quietly. But Finucane is a psychotherapist with professional training in play therapy, and she knew that watching a child play is the best way to learn about a child’s worldview.

~-.-~

So, what’s your Teaser Tuesday? Please leave a link so I can visit your blog.

Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

Every Ugly WordEvery Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Originally titled Breakable, Every Ugly Word is Aimee L. Salter’s revamped debut novel that is now being published under Alloy Entertainment. And if you’ve read the blurb, then you’ll know that this deals with bullying with a unique twist.

Ashley Watson is seventeen years old and has been bullied relentlessly since she was thirteen. The reason behind the bullying is kind of her fault, she even acknowledges this fact, but for it to continue over the years over a stupid lie is sad. What makes it worse is that the bullying is done by her former friends. No matter what she does or where she goes, there they are ready to make her life a living hell.

Not only does she have to deal with her tormentors at school, but her home life isn’t all that great either. Her mom, who is dealing with her own issues when her husband leaves her for a younger woman, seems to have a funny way of showing Ashley she loves her. She’s cruel and she doesn’t even realize it.

Not even her friendship with her best friend, and crush, Matt is enough to bring happiness into her life, especially when he starts dating one of Ashley’s bullies. The more he tries to bring make things right between Ashley and her former friends, the more she starts to see him as a flawed human being instead of a knight in shining armour.

There is one solace though and that is Older Ashley. Older Ashley is Ashley, only in the future. The only way they can communicate is through a mirror, but Older Ashley has become somewhat distant and her half truths and vague details keeps making Little Ashley suspicious of her true motives.

It makes sense, considering Older Ashley has already lived through the bullying. She knows what happens and is determined to make sure that her younger self doesn’t make the same bad choices that she did. There’s only one problem, Older Ashley is currently in a mental institution and everyone kind of thinks she’s crazy. (Not really a spoiler, as you find this out within the first page)

Welcome to an unreliable narrator and a story that makes you wonder what is actually happen.

Every Ugly Word is told in first person present tense when Older Ashley narrates the story, and first person past tense when the Younger Ashley tells us what happened. The writing style is smooth and even though this might seem like a weird transition to read, it never felt off or jarring. Both Ashley’s had a distinctive voice, despite being the same person. Older Ashley is jaded and seems over it, while the Younger Ashley is angry, vulnerable, and naive.

In terms of characterization, I feel like Salter did a good job displaying flawed characters that may not be relatable or all that likeable, but feel real. Ashley, being the main character, is showcased the most and so we get to see her low points and her highs. I don’t think I’ve ever read a bullying novel and not shake my fist in anger at the bullied. I know that sounds bad, because in real life I would do that, but whenever I saw Ashley make wrong choice after wrong choice, I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop and to value herself. It was frustrating, but I couldn’t stop reading. I don’t think everyone will like her, but her growth and determination was nice to see.

Matt is also shown with a flawed set of glasses as well. He wants to be a good guy, but he’s also a high school boy who wants to be friends with everyone. He does some really crappy things to Ashley, but considering what he knew and the situation, it was believable.

With regards to the bullies, they don’t really get any depth to them, but then again considering that this is told from the bullied perspective it kind of makes sense. What they did to her was horrible, so it was hard to find anything really sympathetic or relatable. And since Ashley is the one telling us what they did, it would be kind of weird if they were anything other one dimensional jerkfaces. To Ashley, that is what they were and thus this is what the readers get to see as well.

The characters, like the writing, are also done well. But I especially loved the plot surrounding Older Ashley and Young Ashley. I wasn’t sure if Ashley was crazy or if the past that we were seeing involved a different Ashley or it was simply Older Ashley reliving the past. In the end, everything is revealed, but I did like how you were never really sure what was going on.

My only complaint was that there were times when the therapist didn’t seem to behave like a real doctor. I kept wondering if he was a figment of Older Ashley’s mind and if what she was experiencing was really real. Older Ashley’s interactions with him seemed false, in some places as well, and I couldn’t stand it when she kept calling him Doc this and Doc that.

Overall: I really liked Every Ugly Word. The bullying depicted here was uncomfortable in some parts and reading how broken Ashley was due to everything was kind of depressing. There will be times when you want to shake her and tell her that what she’s doing is stupid and will only hurt her in the end, but she still does it anyways. Mainly because Ashley isn’t real and her story is already written on the pages, so nothing you can say will change anything, but still….. The feelings of wanting to do that remain.

Great debut novel by Salter and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

 

 
Every Ugly Word was provided by netgalley

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Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark

Sweetness #9Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Sweetness #9 should have been a book that I loved. For one thing, I’m a huge fan of Food Inc and I can’t get enough of food documentaries in general. I’ve also read books about this topic too, including Fast Food Nation which is mentioned in the synopsis for Sweetness #9. However, it wasn’t until it was mentioned on the Colbert Report that I really wanted to read this novel.

After reading the synopsis and some of the reviews for it, I assumed that this would be my kind of book. I was expecting a Fast Food Nation – Douglas Coupland hybrid type novel, where the lead character, David Leveraux, finds out what’s really going in our food and has to deal with that knowledge and his dysfunctional family.

And in a sense, I did get that, but I feel like this was more about David’s struggle with being normal and living the American Dream. Hmmm, when I think of it like that, then it is a bit smart how Sweetness #9’s takeover of the food market mirrors David’s lack of action to do anything in his life. The moment he takes control and stops trying to do what is normal, then he feels great, but things have already changed and the consequences of his neglect are irreversible. Likewise, once you stop the synthetic sweetener you may feel better, but you’re health may still have some side effects, like diabetes or something.

Now that I think about it, it is a smart novel and it does make sense in the grand scheme of things, but that’s only because I’m looking at everything as a whole as I’m write this review. While reading it, I was bored. I loved the beginning of the novel when we are first introduced to David and find out the shocking truth behind Sweetness #9. There was tons of humour in the first part, along with the Fast Food Nation aspect of it as well.

Then, we go into Part Two, which takes place many years into the future. David now has a family, except it isn’t anything like he thought they would be like. His wife keeps gaining weight, his daughter is a vegan rebel, and his son has stopped using verbs. David knows why his wife is having a hard time and why his son forgoes verbs, but he doesn’t anything to rectify the situation.

And this is why I didn’t like the second part of this novel. We get to see some of the harmful effects of this sweetener, but David has never said anything despite what he knows about it. He watches his family eat the stuff, while he refuses to touch it. I kept wondering why he would allow his family to slowly kill themselves when he could be more proactive in helping them.

It was really frustrating to read as he knew why his family was falling apart, but refused to do anything about it. I would have overlooked this glaring problem more if we got to see more about Sweetness #9, but sadly this novel became only a family drama. There’s this Hitler subplot too which just seemed long winded and unnecessary.

By the end of the novel, when David finally does do something, it almost seems too little too late for me. I just stopped caring.

Overall: Looking back, I can appreciate what Clark was doing in his debut novel, but I feel like some of the pieces here didn’t come together as well as they should. I think this is the problem when other books are mentioned in the synopsis, because then the reader goes in expecting one thing and getting something completely different after. Because I saw Fast Food Nation and humour, I thought we’d get a funny fictitious novel about the food industry and how it messed up one man’s life. Instead, I got a novel that is smart (once you think about it), but not as funny and not as food orientated as I thought.

I feel like if the plot lines were a bit tighter and the length of the novel was shorter, I might have liked this more. Unfortunately, Sweetness #9 didn’t really do anything for me. Which I suppose is a good thing, because I’ve heard some really shocking stuff about it.

I do think that Clark has a bright future though. The way he mirrored Sweetness #9’s harmful properties and David’s life choices was really clever and made me appreciate the novel a smidge more than I originally did. So, kudos to that!

Sweetness #9 was provided by netgalley

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Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Tabula RasaTabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

My rating: 3.5 or 3.75 of 5 stars

Tabula Rasa takes place in a hospital like facility near the Canadian border (Oh Canada!). There, some doctors run experiments on patients by drilling holes into their heads as they try to wipe their memory. The patients don’t know who they are, what they are there for, and have no idea how they look like.

For Sarah, her time in the facility has been a blur of nothing. She doesn’t remember her past, her present is bleak. All she has is the hope that her surgeries, which she has to be awake for, works so she can be blessed with a new life.

But Sarah feels like something is missing and she isn’t just talking about her memories. It isn’t until her final surgery is cancelled that everything slowly comes back to her. When she gets back to her room, she finds pills, some clothing, and a piece of paper. Naturally, she takes the pill after reading the paper and thus starts her journey in getting back her lost memories. Memories she may not want back.

Aided by her fellow patients, a genius hacker, and some PTSD soldiers, Sarah will find the truth about her life, the hospital, and a few other secrets that could change everything. She’ll have to work fast though, because someone wants nothing more than to see her dead and they’ll stop at nothing until that happens.

Sarah isn’t your typical YA heroine. She’s tough, she’s resourceful, and she’s vulnerable without it seeming over the top or contrived. I mean, some of it may be, but it doesn’t ever feel forced. They do refer to her as a special snowflake, but as the story continued it did start to make sense why. It wasn’t because of some grand prophecy or anything, just other things.

And even though this sounds shallow, I liked that she was Mexican, yay, for having visible minorities as main characters. I feel weird pointing this out here and in other books where this happens, but as someone who is also a visible minority it’s nice seeing someone different as the lead character.

I also loved the hospital that Sarah was from. In the beginning we get to meet another patient, Jori, who seemed interesting and depressing all at the same time and the scenes with the soldiers, was my favourite part of the novel. The patients were great and the general feel for the institution was creepy and off. I loved reading about it and liked how the story mainly took place there.

In fact, the plot (for the most part) and the characters (all except one) were well written and fleshed out nicely.

Surprisingly, I didn’t even mind the romance subplot here. It is a bit of an instalove, especially since only 48 hours passed and they were into each other, but it was so small that it never really took away from the story. There was an attraction between the two of them and the high intensity of the situation made their hormones flare up once, so it was understandable. Plus, Sarah never let her feelings stop her from remembering the bigger picture. Staying alive and trying not to get shot at.

Did the romance have to be in the story? As someone who isn’t big on YA romance, I don’t think so. But I also understand that this genre will almost always have it as a plot point, so I would rather it be done well than to have a love triangle, instalove, cheating romance instead. Thankfully, I feel like it was done well here, so I was fine with it.

There are a lot of great things about the book, but it does have its downsides too. One of them happened at the very end of the novel, in the epilogue sort of chapter. I was with it, but then I felt a bit meh about what happened. Without spoiling anything, I feel like the beginning portion of the chapter wasn’t really needed if a paragraph undid everything. I didn’t really like that as I felt like it was a cheap way to add some emotional distress, only for it to not really matter.

I also didn’t like the main bad guy. They seemed to have no redeeming qualities and were bad for….what exactly? Some things were mentioned, such as being poor and having a hard life, but I don’t think it justified a lot of the stuff that happened here. The hatred made sense, the extremity of it didn’t. At the end of the day, the bad guy was a stereotypical, one dimensional, crazy person who despite meticulously planning every single detail of their plan was still foiled by a couple of teens.

Not that I’m a villain or anything, but if I was I’d shoot first, then a couple of times after that before moving on to other things. Then I’d make sure that the person I want dead is actually dead, by checking their pulse and then shooting a few more times for good measure. I know this sounds excessive, but considering the amount of ‘dead’ but not really dead proclamations in this novel, you can never be so sure as to who is dead without making sure that they are really dead.

Now granted, the bad guy could have the personality type where they are so egotistical to the point that they think nothing can stop them, but that goes against what we learned about them. They climbed their way to the top and were willing to do whatever it took to get there. Even killing people in cold blood to make sure that happens. So an elaborate plan that doesn’t involve a few headshots or even some poisoning seems to be bit out of character for them.

Also, their rant in the end explaining why they did what they did kept going on and on and on.

Overall: Tabula Rasa is exciting, suspenseful, and really, really cool novel. Sarah is a strong character and when she isn’t, it’s understandable due to what has happened to her. She’s not weak though and doesn’t let her experiences and past stop her from fulfilling her tasks. The other characters, save one, are also fleshed out well.

Despite this, there are some downsides that kind of ruin what would have been an otherwise amazing novel. I do think that this was a wonderful debut though and can’t wait to see what Lippert-Martin comes out with next.

Tabula Rasa was provided by netgalley

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Writing: Story Ideas

I love reading, but every so often I think to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to write a novel of my own?’ When this feeling strikes, I tend to come up with a few story ideas and get pumped. Super pumped, as I start thinking about how the characters will interact and how the story will progress. There will be a twist here, a turn there, and sad scene that pulls on the heart strings and another scene that makes your smile. It will be a good book.

And every good book needs companion, so I start to think of series and multiple standalone story ideas. By the time I’m done coming up with a few ideas, I feel accomplished. I have a story idea! Hear me roar…with a pen, so I suppose it would be ‘Read me roar!’ But I think we can all agree that it doesn’t have the same sort of bite to it as the previous statement.

I start to think up pen names, because I can’t stand attention and even though I would be proud of my books, I wouldn’t want my name associated with them for fear of people finding out and looking at me differently. It’s weird and complicated, but that doesn’t stop me from coming up with some awesome pen names. I get three down, before thinking of the prologues that will not only entice readers to read the novels, but will suck them in even if they don’t want to.

Then, I smile, maybe pat myself on the back for a job well done and leave. Nothing happens after that. My ideas stay just that, ideas. Ideas that are going no where fast.

I’m not sure why I don’t just start writing. I think I lack motivation, no, I know I lack it. It’s just that, every time I’ve tried writing a novel, I stop due to self editing and being overly critical of my work. I also get bored and stop due to that as well. It’s kind of depressing.

NaNoWriMo is coming up and one of my goals is to complete the 50 thousand word challenge. Even if my work is utter garbage, I want to see my ideas take fruit in a story and prove to myself that I can do this. Before that happens, I need to start planning. Outlines, settings, characters and all that fun stuff should be planned now instead later.

I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll be chronicling my journey here so that I don’t get discouraged. Here’s hoping I do well and not quit.

I need to remember that sucking at something is the first step at being kind of good at it. I know I suck, I’m my own worse critic, but I can still do this. Not only for my sake, but the sake of all of these story ideas that are just waiting for a chance to be written. It’s getting ridiculous how many I’ve thought up.

NaNoWrimo, here I come!

But first, sleepy time. Then busy life stuff, then the planning begins!

 

 

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco + Giveaway!

The Girl from the WellThe Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the Ring. I loved the Grudge. I love Asian horror movies, because not only does it have screams but it doesn’t always rely on gore to sell a scary scene. Not that I get scared, of course, but I love the feeling you get after when you’re looking around and wondering if something just might pop out and say, “gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” That’s the sound Sadako from the Grudge makes, in case you were wondering.

So when I heard about the Girl from the Well, I was super excited to get my hands on it and read. There’s not a lot of YA fiction like this and I was looking for something new. I think this helped make me like the book a lot more than others, because it was so different to what I’m use to. That doesn’t mean it’s the best book, because there are problems here, but it’s different and I enjoyed my time reading it.

The Girl from the Well is a ghost story about Okiku, a vengeful ghost from Japan who kills people who hurts children. One day, while looking for her next target, she sees a boy no more than 15 named Tarquin, aka Tark. For some reason she feels drawn to him and soon enough we find out why. Tark has a spirit trapped inside of him. The spirit is vengeful, out for blood, and wants nothing more than to take over the boy’s body and make it her own.

If I was an evil spirit, I might do the same thing. I mean, it’s what they do.

Tark, along with his cousin Callie, try to get rid of the spirit without killing him in the process. While they do this, Okiku is there to provide commentary and a helping hand when needed.

Is this book scary?

To me, not really, but then again I don’t get scared easily so I don’t know if I’m a good judge for this. I did enjoy reading the scary scenes and watching Okiku take down the bad guys. It was reminiscent of Asian horror movies, so I enjoyed it. The way she took out the enemies of child was gruesome, but fitting for a vengeful ghost.

I mean, if I was a vengeful ghost with time to kill, I might be inclined to do the same thing. Like before, it’s what they do.

One thing I absolutely loved was that there was no romance. That might sound weird, but after reading stories where the romance took over or love triangles and what have you, it was really refreshing to see a book forgo that and just have the story. Tark did develop a bond with Okiku and they did start to care for one another, but it was nothing more than friends and I appreciated that. For it to turn into a romance or anything would have hurt the story, so I’m really glad that it wasn’t there.

The writing style, unfortunately, is the only downside to this wonderful novel. The book is written in Okiku’s voice, which is why it’s in first person, but there were times when it would go into third person without any sort of notice. Once you get use to that, it switches back to first person and Okiku takes over once again. This happens more than once and each time it left me confused. There were scenes when Callie would notice Okiku and instead of saying something like, “Callie turned and noticed me standing on the ceiling…” It would say, “Callie turned and noticed the girl in white standing on the ceiling…” (Neither of these are taken from the book, it’s simply an example of what I was talking about).

For me, this didn’t really work. You do get use to it after awhile, but I never really liked these sudden shifts in view. Okiku is a bystander and watches a lot of stuff that happens, but I don’t understand why we kept switching from first to third to first again, if she’s meant to be the narrator for everything.

Some of the characters also did feel a bit underdeveloped, but the ones who were meant to be the stars, or had important roles, did have some depth to them. I kind of wish Tark’s dad was more available, but his absence did make sense since he’s a single dad with a stressful job.

Overall: Other than the writing style, I did like a lot of stuff about this novel. I did find that despite this being a story about Okiku and Tark, it’s mostly Callie that takes center stage and steals the scene whenever she shows up. There were times when things were a bit convenient and clichéd, but I think because The Girl from the Well is so different from other YA books out there that it’s just felt refreshing to read.

Giveaway is now Closed:

I really liked this, which is why I’m happy to announce that SourceBooks is giving a lucky reader a chance to win a copy of The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco. If you are from the US and Canada, then all you need to do is comment below with your name and you’ll be entered to win.

Good luck!

The Girl from the Well was provided by netgalley

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California by Edan Lepucki

CaliforniaCalifornia by Edan Lepucki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first time I heard about California by Edan Lepucki was when she visited the Colbert Report. She was being interviewed about her sales since the plug Colbert made in a previous episode that I never got to watch. So as I sat there watching the video on the computer, I decided that I should check out the book. The thing that made me want to read this the most was that Lepucki mentioned that it has dystopian elements in it. Even though I’ve been a bit burned by this genre before, I do still like it so I really wanted to read California.

Now that I did, I feel like it is an okay book. Not good, not bad, just okay. I don’t think this will be a book that everyone will like and judging by the rating and reviews I’ve read, it truly seems like this is the case. There are some interesting elements at play here and I did like some of the plot lines, it’s just that everything seemed a bit bland. No, not bland. I don’t think that’s the right word to use here. It’s just…not what I expected.

California starts off with Frida and Cal living in the great outdoors. The couple moved out here after a flu outbreak and other things (that were never fully explained) left the world in chaos. The internet is only used by the rich few. Schools are hard to come by, since there’s no money for anyone, so girls like Frida are forced to not go and have her education limited while the boys still get to play. It sucks, but I can definitely see it happening.

In any case, the two leave the city and head out in the wilderness where they farm, hunt, go at it like rabbits, and enjoy life like the no one else is around. Because, there is no one else around. There was one couple, along with their two kids, but they soon passed away. Their only other human contact that they have is a travelling salesperson who provides them with goods for a cost.

One Frida becomes pregnant all that changes. Her need to be with others drives her and Cal to some spikes, where they finally meet someone who introduces them to their community. The more the young couple stays with them, the more they start to realize that something dark is amiss. For one thing, where are all the kids? And if Frida is pregnant and expecting, what will happen to her child?

Now, this does sound pretty awesome, and I definitely felt like some moments were. It’s just that, the characters of Frida and Cal were stupid. Neither of them grows as people and they constantly make the same mistakes. Cal had a hero complex, while Frida never thinks about what she wants to do. She has tunnel vision. Once she wants something, she’ll set out to do it even if she shouldn’t. Like at all. At all.

The thing is, can I really dislike Frida as a person if her character remains consistent to how she was written? Granted, I did like her chapters more than Cal’s, but she is stupid. There were times when I thought, why? Why would you say this when you know that bad things will happen to her and Cal…I mean, I just don’t understand her thought process. But she is consistent, which makes me wonder if I should fault the character when this was how she was always written.

I mean, we’re told that when she was younger she’d know her period was in when there was blood on her underwear. This would cause her to constantly buy new panties, because her period was that irregular. Only, once she starts keeping track of it she realizes that her period is actually on a pretty tight schedule and it never deviants from it. Most people, at least I’d hope most people, would have realized that after the first few times you start bleeding from the crotch, but not our Frida. She simply goes with the flow and when she realizes things are different, she just goes with that one too.

I could talk about Cal, but I mostly found him boring so….

I did like some of the plot. Even though it was slow, I liked the air of mystery and loneliness of the first half of the novel when it was mostly Frida and Cal alone in the woods. I know others didn’t, but I quite liked it.

I also liked the community and the leader. He wasn’t charismatic, but I did understand why everyone made him their leader and why he did what he did for them. The residents were afraid and he took it and made it into a town where people could actually function and not let the past take over.

What I didn’t like was the dystopian/post-apocalyptic aspect, only because I never really felt it or understood it. I don’t know why the world was destroyed or why resources and money was limited. There was a thing about a terrorist group, but even that wasn’t explained all that well.

Overall: I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I mean it has a lot of things that I like in novels, but some of the plot lines never really took off and I couldn’t stand Frida and Cal. By the end of the novel I was wondering how it was possible for them to survive in the wilderness for two years when it seemed like all they could do was grow beets.

But then again, Frida may be TSTL and Cal may be a boring person with a hero complex, but they were consistent with their characterizations. I dunno, I’m on the fence with this. It didn’t live up to my expectations, but it also isn’t the worse book I’ve ever read. I did manage to get to the end and even though I hated Frida, I did enjoy reading her chapters so I guess that says something.

California was provided by netgalley

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